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Tharthara Fawq Al-Nīl, variously translated as "Chatter on the Nile," "Citchat on the Nile," or "Adrift on the Nile," is a popular 1966 work by Egyptian subversive author and Nobel Laureate Naguib Mahfouz. Like many of his works, it is critical of Egyptian society, specifically during the Nassar period, and it was banned for a time by then-president Anwar al-Sadat.
"Chatter" concerns a group of people who discuss the social restrictions of Egyptian society. They spend a great deal of time on a houseboat in the Nile, where they may indulge in forbidden drink, sex, and debate. The bulk of the book is dialogue back-and-forth about the meaning of life in a restricted society, the meaning of life in general, roles and relations, ethics, and many other topics. The boaters are all devotees of absurdity, and they are challenged by a female journalist who is integral to developments in the plot. A very important aspect is the casual indulgence in hashish, or marijuana, as smoked in a water pipe; the pipe allows all visitors to the boat to debate as equals and serves as an allegory for what indulgences are allowed and prohibited during that time.
"Chatter" is best known as a work of existentialism and a critique on the modes and norms of Egyptian society at the time. It was adapted into a film in 1971 under the title "Adrift on the Nile."
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